The government has recently announced extending the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana to 2023 as well. Data of the last few years indicates that more than 70% of the population is covered under the National Food Security Act, in three states while less than 40% is covered in only 8 States/UTs.
The Global Food Security Index 2022 highlights that for the third consecutive year, there is a deterioration in the Global food environment which is threatening food security. The prevailing global situation has offset the gains which were made globally during 2012-2015. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the global food systems.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, also highlights that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impede the progress towards achieving global food security. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and has worsened the food security situation for the already struggling populations across the world.
In India, ensuring food security was among the first initiatives to provide relief & assistance to the population affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief package of the Central government included the provision of free food grains for the marginalised sections. A few of the State Governments have also made provisions for additional assistance towards food security.
3 States have more than 70% of their population covered under NFSA
The National Food Security Act 2013 (NFSA) was enacted to ensure food security through the provision of highly subsidised food grains. The act entitles up to 75% of the rural population and about 50% of the urban population to receive subsidised food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System. With the Outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government took measures to ensure food security under the larger ambit of NFSA.
Initially, food grains were provided under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package. Later, the government announced assistance under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) under which 5 kg of food grain per person per month is provided free of cost to those covered by NFSA. This was over and above the subsidised monthly quota already provided under NFSA. Although initially proposed for a period of three months, the scheme was extended multiple times to ensure food security and mitigate the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The final extension was for the period from October 2022 to December 2022. The government has recently announced a new integrated food security scheme for providing free food grains to Antyodaya Ann Yojana (AAY) & Primary Household (PHH) beneficiaries covered under the NFSA, to be rolled out from 01 January 2023. The free food grains would continue to be provided even in 2023.
As per an update provided in Lok Sabha, the total beneficiaries under NFSA by the end of 31 March 2021, were 79.3 crores. This increased to 79.7 crores by the end of 2021-22. As on 30 November 2022, the total beneficiaries were just over 80 crores.
When PMGKAY was initially announced, it was targeted to extend the benefits to 80 crore individuals. All the States/UTs are under NFSA and accordingly the beneficiaries across all these states were provided with the food grains. The target was to cover roughly 2/3rd of the Indian population. However, the proportion of NFSA beneficiaries among the total State population varies across states.
Note: For this analysis, the total number of beneficiaries at the end of 31 March 2022 is considered. For population figures of the States, the mid-year population projections as per NCRB’s Crime in India (CII) report 2021 are considered.
Beneficiaries under NFSA more than 70% of the population in 3 states
In three states, the total number of beneficiaries was more than 70% of the respective State population. This includes – Assam, Odisha & Bihar. In another 9 States, the share of NFSA beneficiaries among the State population was between 60-70%. Among these states, Jharkhand is the highest with 68.4% of its population being NFSA beneficiaries. Another 10 states have a proportion of beneficiaries between 50-60%. Overall, 22 out of 34 States/UTs have more than half of their population as NFSA beneficiaries.
Most of the ones with less than 40% of the population as NFSA beneficiaries are the Union Territories.
|NFSA Beneficiaries||No. of States/UTs|
|More than 70%||3|
|60% – 70%||9|
|50% – 60%||10|
|40% – 50%||6|
|Less than 40%||8|
71.5% of Assam’s population are enlisted as beneficiaries under NFSA. While in the case of Odisha & Bihar, it is 70.8 % and 70.4 % respectively. As per the data considered for analysis, 58.3% of India’s population are beneficiaries of NFSA.
Among the comparatively large States, Haryana, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu have less than half of their population as NFSA beneficiaries. Gujarat, Telangana & Andhra Pradesh have around about 50% of their population covered under NFSA.
11.18 crore tons of Food grains allocated under PMGKAY
As per the update provided in Lok Sabha, during the first year of PMGKAY, a total of 3.21 crore tons of food grains were allocated under PMGKAY. In the ensuing year, 4.37 crore tons were allocated. As per the latest available information, 3.58 crores were allocated under PMGKAY up to November 2022. As of November 2022, a total of 11.18 crore tons of food grains were allocated under PMGKAY.
Prior to this scheme, 8 lakh MT of food grains were distributed during the initial months of the pandemic i.e., May-June 2020 under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package (ANBP). With the highest number of beneficiaries, Uttar Pradesh has the highest allocation with 2.06 crore tons under PMGKAY. Allocation for Bihar and Maharashtra is 1.21 & 9.8 crore tons respectively.
Fall in the offtake of Food Grains under NFSA
As indicated earlier, beneficiaries under the ambit of NFSA receive food grains at subsidized rates. Grains are also provided for Other Welfare Schemes (OWS) such as the midday meal scheme. States procure food grains from FCI at subsidised rates for various food security schemes. The differential cost is subsidised by the Central government to the states.
Based on the number of beneficiaries registered under NFSA, the states are allocated food grains, which the respective states utilise. The food grains under PMGKAY are apart from the regular allocation under NFSA.
Trends as per the information provided in Lok Sabha indicate that there is a fall in the total off-take of the states in recent years. In 2019-20, the total off-take was 5.28 crore tonnes, which was reduced to 5.18 crore tonnes in 2020-21. This further fell to 4.85 crore tonnes in 2020-21.
|Year||Allocation(in Crore Tons)||Offtake(in Crore Tons)|
|2022-23 (up to Nov 2022)||3.67||3.22|
State-wise trends indicate that the declining trend in the Offtake of food grains can be seen across multiple states. Uttar Pradesh whose off-take was 90 lakh tonnes in 2020-21, fell to 85.28 lakh tonnes in 2021-22. In Bihar, it fell from 51.83 lakh tonnes to 48.9 lakh tonnes during the same period. In fact, in 2019-20, the offtake was a higher 54 lakh tons.
A similar trend can be observed in other large states including – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. The off-take trends are inconsistent for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana & West Bengal among others.
In addition to Centre’s PMGKAY, around 15 states have provided food-related relief during the pandemic. Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, U.P, West Bengal, etc are among the states that provided free ration or additional subsidised ration of food grains for those already under NFSA, those with other types of ration cards and other BPL families.